One of the best ways for RSA Fellows to connect, share knowledge and skills is through the RSA’s SkillsBank, a network of individual Fellows who have been inspired to share their experiences, time and expertise to support others and specific projects.
SkillsBank is headed up by myself and Joanna Massie, and we’re always looking for new SkillsBank members and projects that Fellows can get involved in. As well as linking individual Fellows to projects, we send regular email updates which demonstrate a range of opportunities for Fellows to get involved in, from Fellow-led projects, RSA partner organisations and the RSA.
There are no rules of engagement - the connection can be a one-off phone call to give advice, acting as a mentor or trustee, or becoming an integral part of a project. This means that the matches don’t rely on geographical boundaries, so we could connect you to a Fellow or project in any one of the 80 countries covered by the RSA’s Fellowship.
We’re keen to showcase some of the connections we have made over the past couple of years. We linked Phyllis Martin FRSA (PM) who leads RSA Crowdfunded project Commonwealth Youth Circus to Amanda Chambers FRSA (AC), who has a background in marketing. This is how the connection worked.
Please explain the project and the help you needed:
PM - I applied for an RSA Catalyst grant to support circus development for the young people that I work with. The grant process came with the opportunity to apply for crowdfunding support. I hadn't considered crowdfunding but my job as a producer is always to say yes if someone offers resources!
The RSA team offered to match me with another Fellow for additional support. Marketing isn't really my strong point - I'm a logistics woman through and through - so I asked for a Fellow with marketing expertise who was willing to get involved.
Amanda was brilliant - it is a very busy time for me and my team at the Commonwealth Youth Circus so even arranging to talk took a while! She was very patient and took the time to get the background of what we were doing and why it was important to me. I really appreciated her taking the time to gather context and check that she understood. It meant that trust was developed and I knew that her input would be relevant.
Fellows working together should definitely take the time to get to know the background and motivation of the people they are working with. Even though we weren't able to meet in person, Amanda was a key part of our Kickstarter team. It was a lesson for me in the benefits of remote working!
AC - I was approached by RSA SkillsBank to get involved with several projects and offer my skills in marketing and communications to assist their Kickstarter campaigns.
The first stage was assessing the projects to see if I could make a good match. I found it was really important to stay objective and not be too concerned if the work was outside my immediate frame of reference.
Like all good marketing it should be possible to apply guiding principles to almost anything. However I did look out for two things:
i) Evidence of a basic business and marketing model - and one that could be turned into a compelling fundraising 'case for support'.
ii) Evidence of passion and energy from the people involved - for projects to work within these tight parameters it is vital Fellows can bring their heart and soul to the project - so chose something you can get behind and not mind working unsocial hours on.
What was the result of this interaction?
PM - Amanda contributed directly to our marketing strategy, gave a fresh and objective perspective on our work and was a motivating, encouraging presence throughout the campaign. We met our crowdfunding target, I felt genuinely supported and Amanda has kept in touch.
AC - The project reached its target due to the tremendous efforts of the team involved. I felt really proud to have been involved in the concept stages: supporting the marketing manager with her strategy.
PM - A hugely useful process and a positive experience to work with the RSA team and Amanda. We were very lucky to get someone who was such a good fit and had so much to give. I would definitely recommend it for other Fellows and also look forward to getting involved with other projects through SkillsBank myself.
AC - I really enjoyed the process and found supporting a cause that had solid tangible outcomes very rewarding. I also felt lucky to be working with such amazing people.
If you're interested in finding out more, or signing up to RSA's SkillsBank, then follow this link, or contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org